Copycat Panera Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

The Panera lemon chicken orzo soup is one of my favorites on their menu. Since I haven't been able to go to the States to enjoy it in a long time, I decided to make my own version! This Copycat Panera Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup is easy, delicious, and will surely be a family favorite during the colder months!


  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cups carrots, chopped (approx. 3 carrots)
  • 1 + 1/2 cup celery, diced (approx. 4 ribs)
  • 2 cups white onion, diced (approx. 1 medium)
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 dry bay leaf
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup orzo pasta
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 fresh cups baby spinach
  • zest of one lemon
  • Optional toppings: lemon slices, grated parmesan


  1. Place a large pot over medium heat on the stove. Once the pot is hot, add your olive oil, diced carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Stir occasionally as the veggies heat, making sure that the onions do not brown. Add your thyme, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir together and sauté for a couple of minutes, until fragrant.
  2. Add the bay leaf and chicken stock to the pot. Bring it to a boil. Add your chicken to the pot and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for approximately 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and a meat thermometer reads 165F. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove from the pot and add the orzo. While the pasta cooks, shred the chicken apart. Once the orzo has been cooked to al dente, add the chicken and fresh lemon juice to the hot soup.
  3. Continue cooking for a couple of minutes, until you have tender orzo pasta. Remove the soup from the heat. Add your fresh lemon zest and baby spinach to wilt. Serve your soup hot topped with lemon slices and some freshly grated parmesan. I especially love having a big slice of crusty French bread with this soup. It ties the whole meal together - enjoy!